Sunday, July 7, 2013

Huns at the Gate

History doesn't report what the reigning Roman Emperor said when the Huns first reached the gates of the Eastern Empire, but I do know what ProfessorRoush said today when he saw this metallic green creature munching away on a rose.  Unfortunately, my verbal outburst cannot be repeated in print, nor orally in the presence of good Christians or children, so my response will also be lost to future generations.

As I fearfully predicted last year, the frontier of expansion for Japanese Beetles has shifted west and they have reached Manhattan, Kansas.  I was walking my garden this morning, taking pictures, when, from twenty feet away, I saw a dark spot at the center of a bloom of 'Topaz Jewel'.  On closer examination, there he was, a solo advance scout for the Japanese Beetle horde.  A few seconds after I took this picture, he wasn't nearly so complacent because he found himself between a rock and a hard place, the latter represented by the sole of my shoe.  It was barbaric, I know, not to offer him a last meal or a chance to redeem his soul, but spies are not subject to the niceties of the Geneva Convention, at least as I understand it.  At least this particular spy won't be reporting the location of my personal paradise back to his buddies.

I know, I know, where there is one Japanese Beetle there must be more, but this scout wasn't fornicating with a fellow member of his species as they normally are found, and so I conclude that he was alone.  I immediately inspected every rose in my garden and found no others present this morning, and you can bet that every morning and evening for the next few weeks I'm going to become close friends with every blossom in my garden. 

My second proactive move of the day was to go to the K-State Rose Garden to inspect the roses there and I hadn't gotten ten feet along the garden before finding another Japanese Beetle in 'Jen's Monk', pictured at the left.  Again, I could find no camp followers for this scout so I concluded he was alone, although I did find two specimens of an unknown beetle, shown below, elsewhere in the roses.  I don't know the identity of these latter interlopers, but both flew away when disturbed, rather than dropping moronically to the round as Japanese Beetles do.  The confirmed Japanese Beetle I found, however, was summarily executed on the spot.   


By eliminating the beetles as they are found, I hope to delay my eventual defeat and keep their numbers down until their natural enemies, such as Tiphia wasps, can aid in the war effort. According to this USDA pamphlet, peonies and knotweed, both of which I already grow, are good nectar sources for the wasps and fly predators of Japanese Beetles. I know the first years of invasion in a new area are the worst for destruction and then an equilibrium is reached.  Perhaps my Purple Martin allies will help me keep the beetle numbers under local control for a few years while the rest of the environment catches up.  I'm a little concerned about the blooms on the top of my seven foot tall 'Sir Thomas Lipton' being an unguarded back door for invasion, so some help from the avian equivalent of a stealth drone would be most welcome.  To my Purple Martins, I say "Good Luck, and Good Hunting!"


Addendum 070713:  Found one Japanese Beetle, a female this time, on 'Folksinger'.  Hopefully, there are no children to mourn her loss.  I also found one of the "different beetles" on a rose.  I'm going to have to catch the next one and send it to K-State entomology.

Addendum 070813:  Found another male last night on 'Morden Sunrise'.  Then found two beetles this morning 'Folksinger' (one male and one female, the male escaped). 

Addendum 071113:  Found another male on Therese Bugnet.  Collected this one and preserved to show the Master Gardener's group and to prove I'm identifying them right!

Addendum 071313:  Found another Beetle on 'Sir Thomas Lipton' where I could see it (I still can't see the top).  They've resorted to trying a stealth entry into the garden.

Addendum 071613:  One beetle on 'Martin Frobisher'

11 comments:

  1. There are no predators I know who are up to the task of keeping these awful creatures at bay. After three straight years of limited numbers of Japanese Beetles here in my Virginia garden, this year's crop emerged late and are plentiful. My sympathies to you on their arrival in Kansas.

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    1. Yeah, I presume it'll get worse before it gets better. At least the female I found this morning won't be adding to my woes.

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    2. Do you spray Connie? Or just moan and limit public garden visitors for the rest of the summer?

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  2. A morning and evening with a bucket of soapy water seems to be the only way to control these pests. When they overwhelm the garden I cut off all the rose buds so I don't have to witness the destruction.

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    Replies
    1. I'll go to the soapy water if I've got masses, but it's pretty satisfying right now to just squish them. Luckily, I'm between bloom phases on most roses and I'm well past the OGR period, so I've got maybe only 30 or 40 roses to watch...well and the hollyhocks. Does anyone know if they like Rose of Sharon? Those are just starting up.

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  3. While we're on the subject, I know that most of the Internet poo poos the pheromone traps, but does anyone know if they would be useful now, in the early stages of yard infection, to lure and trap as many females as possible in my vicinity...to slow down the rate of grub production?

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  4. So glad that you caught the Japanese beetle advance guard up your way - but I'm sure this means that we need to take extra care around here, too. Keep up the good work!

    Oh, and I think that other beetle you've been seeing is a flower scarab (possibly Trichiotinus texanus),described in "Insects in Kansas" as uncommon and taking flight easily when disturbed. Nice job getting such a good photograph.

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    1. I think you're on to something. Maybe not trichiotinis texanus, but definitely a trichiotinus.

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  5. Years past, I've been grateful that the JBs hadn't made it to Kansas, and it breaks my heart to see them arrive.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, let's just hope the Kansas prairie somehow fights back.

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